How Might a Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Impact the Disabled in Arizona?

Although recent efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) in favor of what has been promised to be a better national healthcare system have failed to pass to date, some Arizonans are worried about the fall out that may follow any plan that cuts services. In particular, the 1.9 Million people covered by Arizona’s version of Medicaid – – the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (“AHCCCS”)—stand to lose a lot.

How will this affect those receiving or applying for disability benefits in Arizona?

The federal government offers two different disability insurance and benefits programs. Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) is a work credits-based program available to individuals who meet the government’s definition of “disabled” and who previously paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions for a certain length of time. In contrast, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is a mean-tested program available to those with extremely limited financial resources who are of advanced age or are disabled. Depending on your particular situation, you and your family members may qualify for either program or both. In addition, pending on your situation, you and your family may qualify for health care coverage through the government’s Medicaid or Medicare programs.

What does the face of the potential crisis among disability benefits recipients in Arizona look like? Consider a single Arizona woman unable to work due to a debilitating condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome who is raising two significantly disabled young children on food stamps and her SSDI payments. Her and her children’s exorbitant medical care costs, including a feeding tube and about 24 medications among the three of them, are covered through AHCCCS.  She fears her children will “be lost” if her medical benefits are cut. She is not alone, as 42% of those covered by AHCCCS are children under 17.

The AHCCCS system has been recognized as a “highly efficient” model of healthcare for other states, yet 74% of its expenditures are paid by federal funds which may be in jeopardy if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. AHCCCS differs from other states’ Medicaid programs in that it reimburses insurance companies based on the number of people they ensure rather than the number of health services provided.

If the federal funding is cut, not only may Arizonans lose their coverage, but hospitals may lay off workers to offset lost federal money. In addition, funds that would be allocated to services such as education and transportation infrastructure may need to be diverted to partially fill the void in healthcare funding. Further, if people need to use personal funds for healthcare costs, the local economy may be negatively impacted by reduced consumer spending.

While the future of the Affordable Care Act is not in your control, finding the right attorney to assist you with SSDI and SSI benefits applications and appeals is.

If you need assistance applying for SSDI benefits, SSI benefits, or appealing a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help. Contact us for a free initial consultation and assessment of your claim. From our offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Tempe, we represent clients throughout Arizona.